Wires

U.S. Congress negotiators eye bill to avoid Nov. 22 government shutdown

WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Members of the U.S. Congress are maneuvering to avoid a potential partial government shutdown next month by extending existing federal spending for several weeks, a Democratic congressional aide said on Wednesday.

Under current law, money for the operations of an array of Washington agencies expires on Nov. 21. Without either an extension of temporary funds or the enactment of spending bills for the full fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, many agency operations would be suspended.

The aide, who asked not to be identified, said such a second stopgap spending bill might extend into early February, although talks are ongoing.

Not only would a February deadline stave off government office closings on Nov. 22, it also could avoid such a disruption at a time when the House of Representatives could be embroiled in measures to impeach President Donald Trump - a process that could result in his eventual removal from office by the Senate.

A government shutdown would not prevent lawmakers from meeting to pursue their impeachment effort. But it could add chaos and uncertainty at a time when the political system would be under extraordinary pressure.

Progress has been slow on 12 appropriations bills that Congress attempts to pass each year to fund agencies ranging from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Defense Department, State Department and Homeland Security.

A Sept. 30 deadline already has been missed, requiring the first stopgap bill that passed in September providing money through Nov. 21.

One of the major disagreements revolves around Trump's demand for billions of dollars to help build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most Democrats and some Republicans object to the initiative, which was a central promise of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

A related point of contention revolves around moves by some Republicans to reduce spending for various other programs in order to pay for building a wall that Trump argues will secure the southern border.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Peter Cooney)